specific intent to kill (non-statutory)
Victim's mother did not want
Blakley to receive the death penalty (non-statutory)
Michael G. BLAKLEY ADC# 152228 - 7/11/03-
Re-sentenced to Natural Life without the possibility of Parole.
State v. Michael Gene Blakley
Michael Gene Blakley was charged with one count of first
degree murder and two counts of sexual assault. He was found guilty of all three
charges. He was sentenced to death on the murder count and to two consecutive
life sentences without the possibility of parole for thirty-five years on the
sexual assault counts. An automatic appeal to this court was filed pursuant to
Arizona Rule of Criminal Procedure 32.1(B).
The defendant, Michael Gene Blakley met Melissa Behunin in
April 1998. Less than a week later, the defendant was living with Behunin and
her sixteen-month old daughter, Shelby. Blakley lost his job at a fast food
restaurant and the couple moved into a motel room at the Arizona Clearwater
Hotel in Bullhead City. Behunin started a job at a nearby assisted living
facility and Blakley began taking care of Shelby while she was working.
Around five o’clock on the morning of July 18, 1998 Shelby,
now nineteen months old, started crying and woke up her mother. Shelby had
apparently fallen off the sofa sleeper. Shelby had a little bruise over her left
eye. Later that day, Behunin left for work around 12:45 in the afternoon. Prior
to her departure, Shelby was acting normally.
At 4:23 PM the hotel manager called 911 and stated that the
occupants of one of the rooms had reported that a baby was not breathing.
Immediately prior to this, the defendant called the hotel manager and request he
call 911. The 911 dispatcher called back to the defendant’s room and instructed
the defendant on how to give the child CPR.
When the paramedics arrived, Shelby was rushed to a local
hospital. Because of the severity of her condition, Shelby was taken by
helicopter to Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada. A few hours after arriving
in Las Vegas, Shelby was pronounced dead. Dr. Diane Lipscomb, the pediatric
critical care physician that attended Shelby, noticed bruising and signs of
trauma to Shelby’s vagina and rectum.
The medical examiner who conducted the autopsy testified that
Shelby died of anoxic encephalopathy, lack of oxygen to the brain. He found
evidence of blunt force trauma to the head. She had a vaginal abrasion and a 3/8
inch tear in her rectum. In his opinion, the genital injuries appeared to have
been recent and within the same general time period as the head injuries. He
believed that the child was suffocated, most likely by having her mouth and nose
On July 21, 1998 the defendant and Behunin voluntarily went
to the Bullhead City Police Department to be interviewed. The defendant was
interviewed first and the interview was conducted by two police detectives along
with two Child Protective Services Investigators. Blakley was read and waived
his Miranda rights. The defendant first stated that after Melissa left for work
he washed the dishes and then gave Shelby a bath. Then he laid her down on the
bed and laid down with her. Several minutes later, he got up for a drink and
noticed she was not breathing.
After the police confronted him with the three hours
unaccounted for in his story, the defendant admitted that he had digitally
penetrated the victim’s vagina, digitally penetrated her rectum, and placed his
penis in her rectum. He stated that after he had done this she was “fussing” and
when he laid her down to take a nap she was crying. He said he placed his hand
over her mouth and possibly her nose for five minutes and she quieted down.
After the interview, the defendant was placed under arrest.
He was charged with two counts of sexual assault and one count of murder in the
first degree. On February 17, 2000 a jury found defendant guilty of all counts.
After a sentencing hearing, the judge sentenced the defendant to death on the
first degree murder charge and two terms of life imprisonment without the
possibility of parole for 35 years to be served consecutively.